Categories
Chocolate Cooking General Recipes

Buttermilk Waffles for Brunch!

My favourite type of waffles are Belgian Liège style waffles (names after Liège, a city in Belgium). There is a little shop in Kenginston Market in Toronto that serves up some pretty delicious ones! It’s called “Wafles & More“. They also serve a a pretty good hot chocolate, should you feel like a rich, warm drink to accompany your already decadent breakfast 🙂

Wafles & More
Belgian Waffles

I woke up this morning craving some waffles and since it is New Year’s Day (and most places are closed), I knew I would have to cook some up myself. Given that Liège style waffles are made with a yeast-based dough and therefore, cannot be made on a whim, within the hour, I decided upon buttermilk waffles instead. They turned out pretty great!

Should you want waffles that are not too sweet, with just a hint of warm molasses and sourness, slightly crisp on the top, fluffy in the middle, and glowing with a caramel-coloured hue, then try this recipe!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour

1/4 cup turbinado, light brown, or dark brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

114 g (8 tablespoons) cultured, unsalted butter (if you can’t find cultured butter, any unsalted butter will do)

2 cups whole buttermilk

3 eggs (separated)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Toppings (you could use any or all of these, or throw on any toppings that appeal to you):

Whipped Cream (Ideally, flavour it with some liqueur)

Berries

Bananas

Melted Chocolate

Maple Syrup

Chocolate Hazelnut butter (go here for a recipe)

Nutella

Peanut Butter

Jam

Method:

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix and then sift them all into a large bowl.

2. Warm the butter and buttermilk to just slightly warmer than room temperature.

3. Mix the butter, buttermilk, egg yolks, and vanilla essence together in a bowl. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients and gently mix them all together with a whisk.

4. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

5. Turn on your waffle maker.

6. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture from step 3.

7. The batter is now ready! Spoon some into the waffle maker and let it cook for about 3 minutes. You will have to figure out how much batter to add into the waffle maker, as well as precisely how much time to let the waffles cook, after a few tries (both these variables will be influenced by the type of waffle maker you have).

8. Your waffles are good to go! Throw on some toppings and enjoy!

9. Just a note, I think whipped cream is an absolutely essential topping for waffles. I recommend whipping some up right before you start making the waffles. I also suggest adding some liqueur to the cream before you start whipping it up. I used cherry liqueur!

10. Also, if you’d like, you can make a few extra and store them in the fridge. I have found that when you’re ready to eat them, it’s best to heat them up in the oven at 350 degrees Celsius, for 2 mins on either side, after basting them with some butter.

Neatly plated waffles 😊
Simple buttermilk waffles
Messy waffles 😝
Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

Rajma (Spicy, Buttery, Kidney Beans) Recipe

Homemade Rajma

In some ways, Rajma is to North Indian cuisine what Macaroni and Cheese is to North American cuisine: it is ubiquitous and seen as a comforting food that reminds one of home. Rajma is also similar to Mac and Cheese in the sense that it is often made badly. And bad Rajma is especially like bad Mac and Cheese in that it’s often bad because its texture is all wrong.

Having said that, it takes a bit more time to make good Rajma than it does to make a  decent Mac and Cheese. Moreover, and this might prove to be controversial, I think Rajma represents a more complex harmony of flavours than Mac and Cheese does.

As you can see, I love Rajma! And as it happens, I’ve recently put together a delicious Rajma recipe, which I am very excited about. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you will need:

Equipment:

  • A Pressure Cooker (if you don’t have one, you could just use a large saucepan)
  • A saucier pan or a saucepan
  • A Knife
  • A Cutting Board
  • A Spatula
  • A Bowl and a Plate

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Red Kidney Beans, soaked for at least 7 hours in a lot of water
  • 3 Cardamom Pods
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1 Large Bay Leaf (or two small leaves)
  • 1/2 Stick of Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Red Onion, finely diced
  • 3 Large Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 1 Inch Piece of Ginger, grated
  • 4 Green Chillies, chopped coarsely
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1-2 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1-3 Tsp Chilli Powder (adjust the amount of chilli to your preferred spice level. If you use 3 tsp (which I do) the Rajma will have a bit of a kick to it ;))
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2-3 Medium Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-4 Tbsp Oil or Ghee (I prefer ghee; here is my recipe, if you want to make it at home)
  • As much butter as you like 🙂
  • A Sprig of Coriander/Cilantro, optional

Spices for Indian Cooking

Method:

Note about Serving Size: This makes enough Rajma for 6 people if they’re eating modest portions or if it is served with something else, like a dal (lentil) or a vegetable or chicken based preparation (as it generally would be in, in India).

1. Drain the excess water out of the bowl/pan in which you soaked the beans. Add about a half cup of water to the beans and cook them in a pressure cooker, on medium-high heat, until the whistle of the cooker goes off about 4-5 times. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, place the beans in a large saucepan and cook them with several cups of water until they become soft and cooked through. You can figure out if the beans are properly cooked by squishing one between your finger (or between two spoons). If you’re able to press through the bean and reduce it to mush, the beans are done are ready to be used in the recipe.

2. Pour the oil into a saucier or saucepan. Place the pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil becomes sufficiently hot (you can test the oil temperature by adding a cumin seed to the oil and seeing if it begins to sizzle) add in the cumin seeds. Just as the seeds begin to pop, lower the heat to medium and add in the cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and a stick of cinnamon. Toss these about in the oil for a bit, until you can smell their fragrance.

Tadka, Indian spice tempering, popu, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaf

3. Increase the heat to medium-high again and add in the chopped onion and sauté it until it begins to brown.

Cooking onions for north Indian cooking

4. Now, reduce the heat to medium again and add in the ginger, garlic, and chillies. Toss them about constantly, until the raw smell of the garlic dissipates.

5. Next, add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, and chilli powders to the pot, along with salt, and stir everything together. Let the masalas cook in the oil for a minute or two, before adding the chopped tomatoes to the pot. Stir well, cover the pot, and let the this tomato-onion-masala mixture cook on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, checking on it and stirring as needed every few minutes. You will know the mixture is cooked enough once the oil starts to separate from the rest of the ingredients.

Basic north indian cooking

IMG_2260

6. At this stage, I recommend fishing out the bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick. This is so the finished product feels smooth and creamy, without little bits of crunchy spices ruining the overall mouth feel of the dish,

7. Finally, add the cooked Rajma to this mixture, along with a cup or two of water and loads of butter. Cover the pot and let the beans cook with the onion-tomato-masala mixture for about 4-6 hours, on low heat, stirring intermittently. This slow cooking will allow the flavours to intermingle and “mature”.

Rajma (kidney beans) cooking with butter

6. Serve the Rajma with rice or roti and yoghurt! (My current favourite way to eat it is with a Rumali roti.) You can garnish the Rajma with a sprig of fresh coriander/cilantro, if you like. Enjoy!

Categories
Food General Products Recipes

Coconutty Cranberry Granola

I’ve never really been into breakfast; “healthy” breakfast foods have been even less interesting to me. I often just skip breakfast and eat a large lunch instead.

All that changed 2 weeks ago! On Christmas eve, my partner’s Uncle came to visit us and he brought a delicious jar of granola made on his farm along with him. The next morning, before rushing off to spend Christmas day with friends in a neighbouring city, we needed something to eat quickly. The jar of granola was just sitting there on the table, so we opened it up and tried it.

It turns out, I like granola if it’s full of cranberries and coconut 🙂

So once that jar-full of granola was gone (which was within the week), I decided to make some more myself. It’s pretty easy; it’s also filled with nutritious ingredients!

DIY Granola Recipe

If you’d like to try making some too, here’s what you will need (I’ve divided the ingredients into groups to make it easier to describe the steps involved):

Group A:

2 cups of rolled oats

1/3 cup dried, finely grated coconut

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 pinches of salt

Group B: 

1.5 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

20 ml (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) maple syrup (you can add more if you want the granola to be sweeter. I was trying to make a not-so-sweet version. You can also just add more cranberries at the end. I prefer the cranberry option because this means you’ll have extra little bursts of sweetness in your bowl 🙂 )

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Group C:

Dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 250 fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out and mix together the ingredients in Group A in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Measure out and pour the ingredients in Group B into a microwave safe bowl. Now warm the bowl in the microwave until the coconut oil melts.
  4. Pour the melted ingredients in Group B on the ingredients from Group A, mixing continuously.
  5. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Coconut Cranberry Granola Recipe

6. Once baked, cool the mixture and mix in the cranberries.

7. Store in an airtight container, ideally in the fridge.

Homemade Coconut Cranberry Granola Recipe

Your granola is ready!

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Spiced Black Tea (Masala Chai) Chocolate Truffles

Masala Chai Truffles

My latest chocolate-related invention: Masala Chai Chocolate Truffles!

How did I come up with this curious combination of chocolate and masala chai (Indian-style black tea)? I was planning my birthday party earlier this month, and I was trying to think of snacks and desserts that I could serve at the party. I wanted to be able to do most of the work in advance, preparing at least some of the foods days in advance, but I also didn’t want to compromise on their taste. Truffles, are of course a great choice given these criteria. So I decided to make some of my usual favourites: Cointreau truffles, mint butter-cream truffles and almond butter-cream truffles. But, I also wanted to be a bit adventurous and try something new and quirky. I’d made myself a cup of tea, and was sipping it, while I thought about what new flavours I could throw together, when the obvious occurred to me: tea-truffles. And then I thought, “Why not masala chai truffles, just to spice things up?”. They turned out surprisingly well, and were quite a hit.

If you’d like to give them a go, here’s how.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet, baking sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in.

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tea bag masala chai (available in most grocery stores)

A few tablespoons of cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

How to make chocolate truffles/chocolate ganache

Next, get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the tea bag to the cream, and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

Heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth (as shown below), into the bowl with the chocolate.

How to make masala chai truffles

Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the salt, and delicately mix everything with a whisk.

Making Masala Chai Truffles

It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Chocolate ganache

Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or foil on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions on the parchment or foil (use an ice cream scoop if you have one). The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

Masala Chai truffles

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two in your hands, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Masala Chai Truffles

I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either; I did however end up smelling like chocolate all day 🙂

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks, but take them out a few hours before you serve them, so that they’re at room temperature. They also make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà! you have a handmade, personalized present!

Masala Chai Truffles
Categories
General Recipes

How to Look, Feel and Smell Like a Schockolade Scheherazade

Dearest readers, I have missed you. Because I’ve been gone so long, I decided, even before I sat by my laptop, that today’s post ought to have something to do with chocolate. Given my general obsession with the stuff, it seems appropriate. “But which specific chocolate-related adventure shall I write about first?” I wondered. After all, since my last post, I’ve made three new kinds of truffles, baked a new type of cake and discovered a new chocolate store. After thinking about it for a long while, I decided to write a DIY guide to a delicious chocolate themed facial.

You see, the other day I was sitting on the couch bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t had a facial in a while. I love going to day-spas, where one can get massages and facials, sit in a sauna, jump into a cold plunge pool and/or relax in a hammam (turkish bath), amongst other heavenly activities. But being a poor grad student (who is trying to get her doctorate in something non-chocolate related) (not that this has anything to do with my story), I can hardly ever afford to go to a nice day spa, or even, for that matter an ugly, dingy one. So I decided I was going to give myself a spa-treatment at home. It felt so wonderful and the process was so relaxing and easy, that I thought I’d share it with you.

Sidebar: I have avoided writing about ‘beauty stuff’ on this blog so far, partly because I think beauty is a loaded and complicated issue. I write about ‘silly’ things here, silly things that I am oddly passionate about; this isn’t a blog about how to save the world after all, unlike my 400 page dissertation which is (about saving the world I mean) (I should have said “which will be about saving the world'” instead, that would have been clearer, because I don’t mean that my dissertation ‘is”, although, I wish it  were ‘is’ because that means it would be all written…god I hope neither my supervisor, nor a grammarian is reading this!). The real problem is that I write in superlatives, with a great deal of energy and well, I don’t think I’d come across like I had a lukewarm take on any issue. So if I write about some cream that I believe will prevent me from getting wrinkles, or about how one could lose weight, I’d feel like I was endorsing a pre-occupation with these concerns. This would cause me to clarify my position and present feminist critiques of contemporary and perhaps even older conceptions of beauty. I might even feel tempted to refer to post-colonial critiques of the same. I do worry about wrinkles and things on and off, but I don’t obsess and more importantly, I don’t want this blog to be about those sorts of things, things I don’t want to be worrying about I mean.

This post however, fits squarely within the mandate I have defined for this blog, it’s weird, it makes me happy and/or it involves chocolate.

Disclaimer: Now bear in mind, I am no skin care expert. This entire blog post is based on internet research and years of going to spas; I’ve had absolutely no training as an esthetician or dermatologist.

Now that I’ve got those clarifications out of the way, let’s get to my yummy spa afternoon:

I think a facial has three important stages, exfoliation, a treatment mask and then of course hydration.

Step 1: Exfoliation

Ingredients: Green or black tea from a used tea-bag and yoghurt for the face scrub. Also, wine, chocolate and a good book as accompaniments in the bath.

Method: I think the best way to steam your face and open up your pores at home is to draw a bath and sit in it. So that’s what I did: I drew myself a nice warm bath with lavender perfumed epsom salt, and settled into the tub with a good book, a bar of delicious dark chocolate and a glass of wine. After about 20 minutes, I very gently and carefully scrubbed my face with a mixture of tea and yoghurt. I got the tea out of a bag I’d used earlier to brew up a cup of tea. This is important because I find that fresh tea is too rough on my skin, whereas tea that has absorbed moisture is less like sandpaper. It’s a great scrub because the caffeine gives me a little kick. It might do nothing for habitual chain coffee drinkers though.

Green or Black tea face scrubStep II: Treatment Mask:

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of organic cocoa powder, about a teaspoon of honey (make sure it’s organic, raw and un-pasteurized), the juice of a strawberry and a lot of self control. (For strawberry juice, mash up a strawberry with a spoon and then get the juice out of the pulp with a strainer. You could also process a strawberry or two in a mixer or food processor and add the juicy pulp to the mask.)

Method: I mixed the above ingredients. I recommend using as much honey as you need to get the consistency you’d like.

Chocolate face treatment maskNext I applied this paste to my face and then, I spent the next 20 minutes trying NOT to lick it off.

Image from catworld.com, available at: http://www.cat-world.com.au/chocolate-poisoning-in-cats

To relax and distract myself from the chocolate, I gave myself a massage with my homemade delicious cocoa butter body butter, the recipe for which you will find here.

Step 3: Hydration

The final step was washing the mask off and applying some toner and moisturizer.

I felt and smelt pretty good for the rest of the day 🙂

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Break AND Fix a Chocolate Ganache

I am taking chocolate fudge cupcakes to a friend’s birthday party tonight! I baked them late last night and took a break from work this afternoon to frost them. I decided to fill them with dark chocolate ganache and top them off with either Gianduja chocolate frosting or Peanut butter-cream frosting. I will write about how the cakes turned out soon enough, this post however is all about the ganache. More specifically, it is about how to break a chocolate ganache and then, fix it. Why, you ask, would you want to know how to break a ganache? Well, because then you’ll know what not to do when YOU make your next ganache, of course. And if you manage to break your ganache in a unique and entirely different manner than the one chronicled below, why then read on, and you will find how to fix it!

A dark chocolate ganache should taste smooth and rich. This is how it should look:

Chocolate ganache
This is how a chocolate ganache ought to look; a broken ganache will look oily and goopy not smooth and even like this.
Unfortunately for me, things went horribly wrong. I ended up with an awful, goopy, oily mess. I didn’t take a picture of it, but here is a link to someone else’s photograph of a ruined ganache that looks very much like mine did.

I think this might be because I added cold vanilla extract from the fridge, when in fact, I should have ensured that it was at room temperature.

I panicked and tried various ways of fixing it. First, I heated it on low in the microwave. When that didn’t work, I tried heating it in a double boiler. Finally, I tried to fix it by adding a few tablespoons of warm milk one at a time. After each table-spoon, I gently stirred the mixture with a whisk. And Voila! It worked! Here is what I ended up with:

Fixed chocolate ganache
Fixed, but slightly thin, ganache
It is smooth and even, the way it out to be. However, the mixture is a bit thinner than my previous ganaches have been. It’ll firm up in a bit I am sure, and since I am using it as a filling for cupcakes this might even be a happy accident, as it might be nice to have a softer filling inside the cakes. On the other hand, if I was going to be making truffles with this ganache, I might have a problem on my hands.

Ps. I washed my hands before I dipped my finger in that ganache!

Categories
Chocolate General Recipes

Cocoa Body Butter that Will Make you Swoon!

Today, I am going to be writing about food without writing about food. “How”, you ask, “is this possible?” Read on my aspiring domestic goddesses and gods and you will see!

In a previous post (a recipe for chocolate brazil-nut butter), I raved about The Body Shop’s brazil-nut body butter. While this is my favourite flavour, a close second, is their cocoa butter body butter. Despite how much I love this product though, the truth is that I’ve always wanted a body-butter that was even more, well cocoa-ey. (By now, if you’ve been reading one or two of my blog-posts, you know that I am definitely not a “less is more” type of person; more is definitely better in my book!) In the past, I’ve made my own body and face oils, having been inspired and coached by an old friend of mine, Ralph, who now practices naturopathy and Ayurveda in South Germany. So the concept of making my own skin-products isn’t entirely new to me; I’ve just never gotten around to it.

Then, in December last year, before I pushed off to India for the holidays, I had friends over for dinner, and one of them mentioned making her own lip balm. This got me thinking, and I resolved to make my own body butter someday. And then, I promptly tucked away said resolve somewhere in the back of my mind and forgot all about it. What with packing, flying to India and having wildly inappropriate dance parties with my insane family (and by this I mean my parents, Aunts, and Uncles happily prancing about to bollywood dance music with us young’un’s), I just didn’t have the chance to give it a go.

And then today, I woke up with a rather inexplicable craving for homemade body butter. It may have something to do with an email I got yesterday from The Body Shop asking me to “Indulge in Chocomania: it’s Sinfully Good and Totally Guilt Free”. Guilt free? Really? Not when I am spending what is literally my entire week’s entertainment budget on lotions and potions that smell like the food I would be buying if I had any money left!

So I went out exploring in my neighborhood and bought some pure shea butter and cocoa butter. And then, I made my own, deliciously decadent body butter and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the smell, texture, and look of it had me giggling, smiling and babbling excitedly.

The first whiff of it was absolute, pure delight. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Equipment:

A double boiler or a microwave

Hand-held mixer or whisk

One medium bowl and one large, deep bowl

Jars to put the body butter in

Ingredients:

(All the ingredients I used were organic)

100 ml pure Cocoa butter

50 ml pure Shea butter

2 tbsp Vitamin E oil (at least 2000o IU)

3 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Oil

1 Tbsp Mineral Water

Method:

You can buy cocoa butter in the form of “chips”, or in a jar. If you buy it in a jar, you might have to place the jar in warm water for a bit, just to soften it up a bit, before you take it out. I placed both the shea butter and cocoa butter jars in a bowl of warm water in the sink for about 5 minutes.

Now measure out the cocoa butter and shea butter into the medium bowl and place it in the microwave. I would heat it on a very low setting (time defrost) for about 20 seconds at a time, checking on it periodically. You want the butters all melted and looking like this:

It’s important to do this carefully as you don’t want to overheat the butters. Once the butter-mixture is nice and melted, stir it a bit and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool down. Then, add the sweet almond oil and vitamin e oil, stir and put the mixture back in the freezer for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture has firmed up. Once firm, take it out, add a tablespoon of water and using the hand held mixer or whisk, beat the mixture.

At this stage in the process, I was taking in the wonderful smell when I realized the only thing that would make this smell better would be vanilla essense. Since I bake a lot, I had some lying about, and so I added 1/4 tsp to the mixture and whipped it up into a wonderful, light, creamy and delicious smelling mixture 🙂 When I smelt it, I felt it needed some more vanilla, so I added another quarter teaspoon. On a side-note, I would have used vanilla oil if I had some around because vanilla extract has alcohol (which dries the skin). However, if you don’t have any lying about, I am sure the essence is fine, since you’re using such a small quantity of it.

When you feel it’s suitably fluffy and you’re happy with the texture, scoop the mixture into clean, dry jars!

And there it is, your very own, delicious body butter that will have you smelling like something you want to eat. I am not sure why I want to smell like something I’d eat, I just do! It makes me wildly happy and if this sounds like the sort of thing that makes YOU cheerful, go ahead and give it a go- it’s easy!

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

Cointreau chocolate truffles

This was my latest chocolate experiment: Cointreau Truffles!

How did I settle on this particular flavour? Well, I bought a whole bottle of Cointreau at the Delhi International Airport last month you see. And today, wanting to make a new type of truffle I looked about my kitchen, and my eyes fell upon the bottle. I was torn between trying out Cointreau truffles and red wine truffles; in the end this seemed like a better bet. It turned out to be a good choice; they were delicious!

 

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

A grater or citrus peeler or vegetable peeler

2 plates

Parchment sheet or wax paper (at a pinch, you could use aluminium foil)

Little paper cups to put the truffles in, preferably orange paper cups

Silicone Chocolate Mold (optional)

 

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tbsp Cointreau (you could probably also use Grand Marnier)

1 orange

A few tbsp of cocoa powder

 

Method:
1.Peel or grate the rind/peel of the orange. Get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the orange zest to the cream and let it steep for about an hour.

2. In the meantime, chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

Chopped up chocolate to make a ganache

3. Once the orange peel has steeped in the cream for about an hour, re-heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Making a chocolate ganache for chocolate truffles

4. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the Cointreau and salt, and delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich. You might also break the ganache (see this post for more on this).

Gently mixing the chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

5. Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

How to shape chocolate truffles

(That cow looks like she wants some of that delicious ganache :P)

6. In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or wax paper on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or wax paper. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

(As you can see, at this stage, things look pretty messy, but that’s ok. You will be able to roll them about in your hands and slowly work them into fairly smooth and nice looking spheres.)

7. Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

8. Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done. I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either. This was the sum-total of the mess I made:

Making chocolate truffles is not messy!

This is how your truffles should look:

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

9. If you don’t like the slightly rustic look of the cocoa, you can also dip the shaped truffles into melted chocolate. That is, once you’ve shaped the truffles in Step 7, skip Step 8. Instead, place the truffles in the fridge to firm up and, in the meantime, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler or a fondue pot. Then dip the firmed up truffles in the melted chocolate, and place the truffle on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let the chocolate harden and enjoy!

Cointreau truffles coated in dark chocolate

You could sprinkle some ground almonds on top to compliment the orange-y flavour 🙂

Cointreau truffles

10. You can also make more professional looking truffles if you have a silicone mould, like this one:

Silicone mold for truffles

All you have to do with a mould like this is pour the ganache directly into it right after Step 4. Then place the mould in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate firms up, then pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Cointreau chocolate truffles

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks.

They make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà, you have a handmade personalized present! I, for one, know my mother would love this; if only she and I were in the same country 😦 I will make her a box for when she visits me though 🙂

I also like to make up a box of assorted flavours:

Homemade truffles as a gift

If you’d like to try making a box of assorted chocolates, you could look for recipes on the Internet, or just be playful and invent your own. Here are some of my own recipes: basic dark chocolate truffles, masala chai truffles, sugar-coated truffles with orange-cream cheese centres, truffles with cream cheese centres, or truffles with mint butter-cream centres.
Or look at this detailed post about how to make multiple flavoured truffles for a gift box.

Have fun truffling 🙂

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Basic Dark Chocolate Truffles

So by now, I think it is fairly obvious that I love chocolate. However, truth be told, I’ve become sick of all the usual chocolate you can buy at the drug-store or supermarket- the likes of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadburys etc. I even, to be honest, am sort of over store-bought hazelnut butter- a.k.a. Nutella.

No hell has not frozen over, and no I have not been kidnapped by someone who is now pretending to be me on my blog so people don’t report me missing (if you are someone who is considering kidnapping me by the way, this tactic will never work, I talk to my parents and some close friends virtually everyday, so I would be reported missing if I didn’t answer my phone in 2 hours max.) “But Nutella is AWESOME” you exclaim or if you’re my mother or father, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you heave a sigh of relief, because until now you thought I was going to develop heart disease and diabetes and god knows what else at the very tender age of 29.

But don’t get too excited dear parents, I am NOT giving up chocolate. I am saying I am over this store-bought stuff because it’s too sweet and frankly not very good chocolate. If I could, I’d go eat pralines and truffles from Soma (this amazing chocolate store in the distillery district in Toronto) or Leonidas or Patchi or some other chocolate store that knows what they’re doing. BUT, the problem is, I couldn’t possibly afford to- considering how much chocolate I guzzle on a daily basis and considering I am but a poor doctoral candidate.

NOW I finally have the solution to this problem. Handmade, homemade truffles! And now that I’ve figured out how to make them, I simply cannot understand how I was ever able to eat that rubbish they call chocolate in supermarkets and drugstores.

In addition these truffles are the answer to my goldilocks-type problem with chocolate. My problem with most dark chocolate is that it’s not as creamy as milk chocolate; my problem with milk chocolate is that it isn’t chocolatey enough. Happily, one of the things that makes truffles magical is that they can be rich, creamy and smooth and ALSO have a strong chocolatey flavour.

If you’d like to discover true happiness as well, keep reading, because what follows, is a detailed narrative of how to make basic dark chocolate truffles.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food proccessor

2 medium sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

A dollop of butter (at room temp)

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

A few tbsp of Cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt when you pour in the hot cream.

Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl. Next, get the half cup of cream just to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Add the dollop of butter, vanilla essence and salt and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour, until it firms up. In the meantime take out the plates and place two sheets of parchment or foil on them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or foil. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Place the plates in the fridge again for about 15 mins. Take the truffles out when they’re firmed up again and roll them about in your hand until they’re more or less spherical, then place them back on the parchment. You can also try to shape them as tear drops- but good luck with that, it’ll take patience. This part of the process is so much fun! I love it because the chocolate looks and smells delicious. I would recommend washing your hands periodically in between, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands.

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Then place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Mmmm they will taste delicious. You can put them in the fridge for two weeks or more, but take them out a few hours before you serve them- so that they’re at room temperature.

These basic truffles were so good, that I’ve tried quite a few variations too, such as, dark chocolate truffles with hazelnut butter-cream filling; truffles with a hazelnut centre that are coated with toasted, crushed hazelnuts; and dark chocolate truffles with a hint of orange. I will post pictures and recipes of these variations soon!

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Butter (better than Nutella!)(seriously!!).

As much as I love chocolate, I love nutty flavours- not more, not less, just exactly the same amount. Now, while generally the hazelnut has been my nut of choice (although walnuts are lovely too and well peanuts are as unexotic as they are delicious) I think I have a new favourite- the brazil-nut.

In one sense my brazil-nut love-affair began a long time ago. The body shop has these rich, creamy body-butters and my favourite has always been their brazil-nut body butter. It’s absolutely delectable. Anyway, although I loved this body-butter, I’d never really eaten a brazil-nut before, or baked/cooked with these nuts. Then, one lovely summer weekend, my awesome father came to visit. It was wonderful to spend time with him and we walked and talked together, all over the city. As always, he wanted to get me something special as a parting present as it were, and we settled upon a food processor. This is now my favourite toy. It’s amazing and it makes life SO much easier. I shall rant about said toy in another post though, this post is about brazil-nuts.

Anyway, the first thing I decided to make with my processor was home-made nutella. And this project turned out quite well indeed. So well in fact, that the next day, I was out of butter. This time I decided to be adventurous. “This body-butter smells delicious”, I said to myself, “if I like these lotions and potions because they are inspired by food that I love, does it not follow that I would love the food that inspired my most treasured skin-concoction of all??!!”

So I went to the store and bought 100 g of Brazil-nuts. This is what they looked like:

I used only 100g because I wasn’t sure how the experiment would turn out. Here is an account of how things turned out:

Other ingredients I used:

About a cup of icing sugar (it’s important to use icing sugar and not any other kind because you don’t want discrete crystals of it in your butter. You want the butter to have a smooth texture)

1/2 to 3/4 tsp vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

1 tsp or so of peanut oil

About 100 g of good quality dark chocolate

Method:

I began by toasting the brazil-nuts in the oven at 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. I let them cool, and then placed them in a tea-towel and rubbed them against each other until their skins came off. (This process is a little boring and repetitive, so I recommend watching some television or chatting with a friend while you do this.)

Once their skins were mostly off, I put the nuts in the processor and then just let it run for a while. You don’t need to add any butter or oil at all at this stage. Just let the processor do it’s thing. If you’re wondering which blade you should use, check the processor manual- it should tell you what blade/setting works for nut-butters. The nuts will first be crushed, then they’ll be ground to a fine paste and finally you will find them turning to butter. While the nuts are being processed place the chocolate in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. Be sure to do this on a low setting as you don’t want to burn the chocolate. Ideally, you should melt the chocolate in a double boiler to avoid this, but I find that if I am careful, I can do it in the microwave. Once the nuts are smooth, creamy and buttery in texture, stop the processor.

Add the salt, peanut oil, vanilla essence, half the melted chocolate and a few tablespoons of sugar to the butter. Run the processor. Stop and taste-test. if you feel it needs more chocolate or sugar, add some more and process again. Repeat the taste-test and sugar-chocolate adjustments, if necessary. I think it’s best not to follow a recipe in this regard, but to just wing it. As I said in an earlier post about my “universal dark chocolate icing“, each of us has very particular preferences, so why not try and make something perfectly suited to one’s own palate?

Once you’ve played around with the sugar-chocolate balance and found the perfect equilibrium between the two, and made sure everything has been evenly and smoothly mixed together, stop the processor. The butter will look and smell and delicious as you pour it into a jar or tupperware. Here’s proof of how amazing it looks at least:

“I should have made more!”, I lamented to myself. I really should have. And so should you! Double the recipe!

The texture is slightly thin, so if you’d like it thicker so you can spread it on bread etc., put it in the fridge. (I eat nutella with a tablespoon, not bread, so I don’t understand the other half of the population that eat’s it WITH things (unless it’s ice cream they eat it with, THAT I understand).) It’ll look like this once you put it in the fridge.

Ok, not exactly like this. Quite obviously, I got to this with a tablespoon FIRST and THEN realized I should have photographed it. Anyway, you get the idea about the butter’s texture.

All in all, this was deliciousness itself. It tastes absolutely incredible, way better than any nut-butter I’ve tried before.